In the early 1980s, the situation on the northern part of the Central Plateau of Burkina Faso was characterized by expanding cultivation on lands marginal to agriculture, declining rainfall, low and declining cereal yields, disappearing and impoverishing vegetation, falling ground-water levels and strong outmigration. This crisis situation provoked two reactions. Farmers, as well as technicians working for non-governmental organizations, started to experiment in improving soil and water conservation (SWC) techniques. When these experiments proved successful, donor agencies rapidly designed SWC projects based on simple, effective techniques acceptable to farmers. A study looked at the impact of SWC investments in nine villages and identiﬁed a number of major impacts, including: signiﬁcant increases in millet and sorghum yields since the mid-1980s, cultivated ﬁelds treated with SWC techniques have more trees than 10–15 years ago, but the vegetation on most of the non- cultivated areas continues to degrade, greater availability of forage for livestock, increased investment in livestock by men and women and a beginning change in livestock management from extensive to semi-intensive methods, improved soil fertility management by farmers, locally rising ground-water tables, and a decrease in outmigration
Population growth in 12 study villages was 0 percent between 1975 and 1985, and 25 percent between 1985 and 1996. Whereas labor migration as well as permanent departures were normal phenomena between 1975 and 1985, the average population growth of 25 percent in the study villages between 1985 and 1996 suggests a decrease in departures. The village of Ranawa lost 25 percent of its population between 1975 and 1985, but its population more than doubled between 1975 and 1996. Not a single family left the village since the start of stone bund construction in 1984–1985, which has led to the rehabilitation of an estimated 600 ha. Some families returned from the southwest where they had settled a decade before. They returned mainly because of increasing ethnic tensions in that region, but also because of improved production conditions in Ranawa.
C. Reija, , G. Tappanb, A. Belemvirec, Changing land management practices and vegetation on the Central Plateau of Burkina Faso (1968–2002) Journal of Arid Environments Journal of Arid Environments 63 (2005) 642–659 www.elsevier.com/locate/jnlabr/yjare